“Criminal Minds ”boss on season premiere cliffhanger and what comes next: 'You have to decide if it's true'

“Criminal Minds ”boss on season premiere cliffhanger and what comes next: 'You have to decide if it's true'

Who is Gold Star? What did Voit whisper? "Evolution" showrunner Erica Messer answers all; plus, details about Felicity Huffman’s intro and Josh Stewart’s exit: "We didn't have any plans to write him out."

Warning: This interview contains spoilers from the Criminal Minds: Evolution season 2 premiere episodes.

Gold Star’s mystery continues to unravel.

The first two episodes of Criminal Minds: Evolution season 2, out now on Paramount+, offer some insights on what — or should we say who — Gold Star is: a new big bad, and they’ve got a penchant for removing eyeballs. Enter: Elias Voit (Zach Gilford), last season’s unsub who spent the pandemic building a network of serial killers. Voit claims to know all about this mystery person, resulting in a partnership of sorts with the reluctant BAU.

“He knows enough about Gold Star,” showrunner and executive producer Erica Messer tells EW, “but he doesn’t know all of the layers to Gold Star.”

Related: An angry Elias Voit is behind bars in first look at Criminal Minds: Evolution season 2

Per Voit, Gold Star’s MO appears to be linked to the concept of social contagion, defined as the spread of behaviors and/or attitudes through a group or network. He introduces this as episode 2 draws to a close, whispering something into Luke Alvez’s (Adam Rodriguez) ear that makes the special agent erupt in anger. What the heck did he whisper? Messer answers just that and more below. (We spoke to Messer ahead of this week's announcement that the series has been renewed for season 3).

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<p>Michael Yarish /Paramount+</p> Adam Rodriguez and Zach Gilford in 'Criminal Minds: Evolution'

Michael Yarish /Paramount+

Adam Rodriguez and Zach Gilford in 'Criminal Minds: Evolution'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We now have some details about Gold Star. What more can you tell me about this person?

ERICA MESSER: The most general thing I can talk about in terms of Gold Star enucleating is the idea of an eye for an eye. As the season goes on, that will become more apparent and you'll learn more about Gold Star as a person and beyond that. The person that we know is killing [people] in the premiere will broaden out and become a larger part of the investigation.

Rossi is reeling from his near-death experience in the hands of Voit, who keeps popping up via hallucinations. What will their dynamic look like this season?

Rossi's experienced that kind of hallucination before, so it's not out of the ordinary. And Zach is so good that I didn't want him just sitting in a cell the whole season. Their dynamic [will be] similar to the hallucination dynamic, which is very adversary. You want Rossi to punch him. That's just how you feel about it. I don't condone that, but I'm just saying that's how much [Voit] knows which buttons to push of Rossi's. Voit doesn't let Rossi get under his skin and Rossi lets Voit get under his skin.

<p>Michael Yarish /Paramount+</p> Kirsten Vangsness, Ryan-James Hatanaka, A.J. Cook, Joe Mantegna, and Paget Brewster in 'Criminal Minds: Evolution'

Michael Yarish /Paramount+

Kirsten Vangsness, Ryan-James Hatanaka, A.J. Cook, Joe Mantegna, and Paget Brewster in 'Criminal Minds: Evolution'

We’ll soon meet Felicity Huffman’s Dr. Jill Gideon, a new franchise character with a connection to Rossi. How will she shake things up? Is she central to the Gold Star mystery?

She will join in episode 7 and we ask her to consult with us because of this Gold Star case. She's hesitant because she has a complicated past with Rossi. It goes back to when she was there in the early days of the BAU, sort of shadow working with Rossi and Gideon (Mandy Patinkin), and it's [that dynamic of] old friends who almost know too much about one another to be enamored with one another anymore. Yet maybe there is still something there that was never allowed to be because he was married, she was married. So it's a complicated relationship.

Related: Felicity Huffman to guest star on Criminal Minds: Evolution as Jason Gideon's ex-wife

With that introduction comes a departure: Josh Stewart, who played JJ’s husband Will, has left the series. What were the circumstances surrounding his exit?

We tried to make a deal and it didn’t happen, and that’s all I really know. The way this season’s worked out, it's such a fast ball. It's only two weeks between [the seasons], and then [this] season is like a bullet train. It's not really an issue this season, but moving forward we have to acknowledge that in some way. We didn't have any plans to write him out, so if we get future seasons, we'll have to acknowledge that.

<p>Michael Yarish /Paramount+</p> Zach Gilford in 'Criminal Minds: Evolution'

Michael Yarish /Paramount+

Zach Gilford in 'Criminal Minds: Evolution'

I’d imagine you can’t say much about that cliffhanger ending, but I’ll ask anyway: What did Elias whisper into Luke’s ear that made him so angry?

The good news is the audience will hear it at the top of episode 3, so you don't have to wait long. But basically this is in his whole social contagion idea that if somebody tells you something, you have to decide if it's true or not. He whispers something about how Prentiss knows something detrimental [that] she's never told the team about. So why would Voit know this, right? [Luke] is so angry in that moment, but also, is it true? So you see him in the very next episode talking to Prentiss about it. He’s not going to let it stew. But he's mad that Voit would have any intel about the team to get under his skin.

What are you most excited for viewers to see this season?

I'm really excited for them to see how we're tackling this new world of having to work with the serial killer in this way — consulting with him and what that does to our heroes and how it makes them question their own morals and who to trust, how to trust. It’s just another interesting layer that our heroes get to have this season. I always try to approach it from our heroes’ perspective. There’s a lot of opportunities for conflict and growth this year that exist because Voit is in our universe again.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

New episodes of Criminal Minds: Evolution drop every Thursday on Paramount+. 

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.